From an Essay by Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati (Ramamurti S. Mishra, M.D.)
"I" means consciousness, and consciousness means "I". This is the fact. No doubt, in its present form the "I"-principle is mixed with thoughts. The thoughts give size and shape, direct and even dictate the destiny of this "I".
Consciousness operates like the program, which is present everywhere in the atmosphere, while mind, body and senses are operating like the TV or radio, which is located in time and space. No doubt, the poor condition of a TV or radio can seemingly destroy the program for the time being, but it can be seen on other TVs and radios. Televisions and radios, in this case, are the means to manifest the program, just as the body, mind and senses are means, instruments, to realize consciousness, the ultimate end goal.
In short, the "I" or consciousness can live without the body, senses and mind, but they cannot live without the soul or consciousness. The body may be healthy or sick, but in any case or condition it is not the soul, which is always beyond, free from the body.
All sickness, whether physical, mental or psychosomatic, results from past karmas, qualitatively and quantitatively. Spiritual healing is the best healing. The body without the soul is lifeless and is not the subject matter of any type of treatment. Life and consciousness are synonymous. Therefore, life and consciousness have the first priority in any healing.
No karma is the property of one person. All karmas are created combinedly and collectively by many men and women. Thus we have domestic karmas, social karmas, national and international karmas. In addition, we have karmas created by acts of nature, such as volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, accidents. There is not, therefore, any karma which is created by a single man or woman.
To overcome all karmas, the spiritual healing is the best. And of all spiritual healing, meditation is supreme. Drugs, methods and systems of treatment can be changed and can counteract one another. But spirit, life, meditation and spiritual healing cannot be changed. Nature is the greatest mother of healing.
There is a great difference between sickness or illness and disease, being "ill-at-ease". Spiritual healing gives power not to suffer at all from any sickness. By spiritual healing, one can become absolutely at ease. One can overcome any disease, although the body may still remain sick.
The seeds of sickness everybody has. One sickness or another is sleeping in everybody in seed form. So-called hereditary diseases are transmitted from one generation to another, especially from parents to their offspring. But the seed of any sickness does not trouble the carrier unless it manifests into a disease and begins to disturb his or her comfort, ease. Therefore, this manifestation of sickness is truly called dis-ease, being ill-at-ease.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi had arthritis and cancer of the arm. Ramakrishna had cancer of the throat. Swami Vivekananda had diabetes. Swami Shivananda had a stroke with right-sided hemiplegia and loss of speech. Nisargadatta Maharaj (author of the book I Am That) had cancer of the lungs and throat. Krishnamurti had arthritis of the backbone and trembling of both hands. Bhagavan Rajneesh had lifelong asthma. But none of these persons had any disease. None was ever ill-at-ease. On the contrary, they were very happy, healthy, holy and enlightened, and everyone in their presence was happy, holy and illumined.
The body of Janaka's guru, Ashtavakra, was "crooked" in eight places; he was so crippled that he looked like a wheel. But he was not ill-at-ease. He enlightened many souls, and his book, the Aṣhṭāvakra Gītā, is immortalized. Whosoever reads that book cannot remain without illumination.
On the other hand, many men and women have perfectly healthy bodies, but due to unhealthy mental and spiritual problems they are suffering from all sorts of diseases, from psychosomatic to hypochondriac. Hospitals are filled with such men and women.
If the mind is healthy and the body is sick, then nothing is lost. If the spirit is healthy and the mind is sick, then something is lost. But if the spirit is unhealthy and sick, then everything is lost. Spiritual healing removes suffering completely. In a word, spiritual healing is love. This is true in medical healing also. Any medicine given without love does not have its desired result. Spiritual healing is love, meditation.
What is meditation? Meditation is complete rest, physical, mental and spiritual, qualitatively and quantitatively. Spiritual rest or meditation is the feeling of pure consciousness without any thinking, especially without any "isms," dogmas, confining traditions or bindings.
Happiness is the automatic and natural state of consciousness. One does not have to bring it from the outside. Material happiness and sensory happiness are called pleasure and gratification. When consciousness is free from the domination of every thought, whether dark thought or light thought, then and only then can consciousness operate naturally.
Dark forces and light forces are both needed equally. Dark forces and light forces, material and mental forces, are like the two wheels of the chariot. Both wheels are needed equally. In the dark forces are sleeping the light forces, and vice versa, in the light forces are sleeping the dark forces. The lotus flower has its origin in the mud, and the mud has its fruition and blossoming in the form of the lotus flower. Therefore the real life, consciousness and happiness are in balancing, transcending and proper use of both forces.
Many men and women are sitting on a golden throne but are most miserable, and vice versa, many meditative men and women are living hand to mouth, on the bed of death, and they are most happy and enlightened. World history tells us this fact, gives us this lesson, again and again.
Life, spirit, and consciousness are synonyms. The manifestation of sickness is a defense mechanism of the body and mind to get rid of all karmas and foreign elements. In short, sickness is a catharsis and purification of the body and mind. In the presence of spirit, the body itself is the doctor, the physician, and naturally guides the treatment.
I love all systems of healing, Eastern and Western, but I declare the supremacy of spiritual healing, meditation, prayer, fasting, and so forth, because in spiritual healing there is no possibility of counteraction by any other system of medicine used at the same time. The first thing should be first, and other things should be according to time, situation, power and place.
Excerpted from the essay "I and My Sickness," written in December 1984 in London, England, and published as part of the book
I Am Like the Blue Sky. Copyright © 1994 by Baba Bhagavandas Publication Trust, Monroe, New York.
Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati's writings are available either directly through the Publication Trust or the Ananda Ashram Gift Shop.